3 November 2009 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews George Bernard Shaw came up with a shocker when, in 1894 he wrote Mrs Warren’s Profession, a play about a woman who was a partner in a continental chain of brothels. This was the sort of thing polite Victorian society spoke about and it was banned for thirty years. The woman in question, Mrs Warren, played by the much-loved Felicity Kendal doesn’t even tell her daughter how her Cambridge education and monthly allowance has been paid for. I would have thought that a woman from a low background like Mrs Warren would have been a bit like Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, talking posh most of the time but occasionally lapsing into common speak. It’s a pity this doesn’t happen for it would have given the play some variety from the distinctly upper class tones of everyone else. All the same you can’t help having a soft spot for this madam in her brightly coloured suits and large, feathered hats who has a defiant pride in her life style. When she reveals her murky past to her daughter, Vivie ( Lucy Briggs-Owen) at first seems to understand that the oldest profession was the only chance of earning a bob or two in the days when women’s work was limited. But when she discovers the extent of her mother’s current involvement in prostitution, she turns on her with a venom that takes the wind out of her sails and we realise these two will never be reconciled again. Bigg's Owen's Vivie has a very different character and outlook on life to that of her mother’s. She is straight-laced, serious, ambitious and no nonsense. From her performance on press night, it looks as though Lucy will soon be following in Felicity’s footsteps as an actor to be reckoned with. It is suspected that the hypocritical Reverend Samuel Gardner ( Eric Carte) may be Vivie’s father with consequences for the close relationship between her and her half brother, Frank ( Max Bennett). Everything about this play is seedy, especially the men. Mrs Warren’s business partner Sir George Croft is a case in point. David Yelland plays him as a smoothie. I love it when this ungracious 55-year-old attempts to propose marriage to the horrified Vivie. It’s a light-hearted play which, nevertheless, takes a dig at hypocrisy and capitalism. But, unfortunately, at times it seems flat and, apart from muted applause, the audience reaction was conveyed by a man on my right who was snoring loudly. - Julia Taylor Related Content
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
: The economic impact of Arts & Culture in the UK Infographic When Culture Secretary Maria Miller called for the arts to make their "economic case" for subsidy, t... Plays Cast: Harry Potter star in Southwark Moment, more for Branagh's Macbeth Bonnie Wright, best known for playing Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, will make her stage d... Brief Encounter with ... The Kite Runner's Ben Turner Ben Turner stars in the stage version of the bestselling book The Kite Runner, which runs at Liverpo... Titus Andronicus (RSC) This latest production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, to borrow from football punditry, is a p... : Britain's outdoor theatres Take Five With half-term approaching, the weather (hopefully) set to improve for the bank holiday weekend and ... West End Live returns to Trafalgar Square next month West End Live, a weekend of free entertainment from top London shows, will return to Trafalgar Squar... : 'I carry the ghost of Gregory Peck on my shoulders' Robert Sean Leonard Actor Robert Sean Leonard is currently playing Atticus Finch in Timothy Sheader's production of To K... To Kill A Mockingbird Twenty years ago, a young Robert Sean Leonard appeared on the London stage with Alan Alda in... X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L... Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p...